When Men Batter Women

New Insight into Ending Abusive Relationships

About the Course:

This book is based on a decade of research with more than 200 couples in dangerous relationships. Jacobson and Gottman, professors at the University of Washington, use their work to shatter myths and shed new light on abusive relationships.

They introduce two types of batterers: Cobras and Pit Bulls. The Cobras, the more severely violent of the two, strike swiftly and ferociously, always remaining in control and feeling entitled to whatever they want, whenever they want it. Pit Bulls are more likely to lose control, letting their emotions burn slowly until they explode in anger. The research is brought to life with stories of real couples.

Research results and advice are woven throughout such accounts of how real people handled their situations. The authors address the many dangers of leaving an abusive spouse and the importance of forming a safety plan before doing so. Jacobson and Gottman do not come to optimistic conclusions about the ability to stop domestic violence or reform abusive men, but they are optimistic about the women. Their studies follow many women such as Vicky who ultimately left and began the difficult and courageous work of converting nightmares into dreams.


Simon and Schuster

Publication Date:

© 1998 / Hardcover


Neil S. Jacobson, Ph.D.; John Gottman, Ph.D.

About the Authors:

Neil S. Jacobson, Ph.D., is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Washington. A pioneer in the scientific study of marital therapy, he is also coauthor (with A. Christensen) of Integrative Couple Therapy, as well as the author of more than 200 articles and textbooks on a variety of subjects in psychotherapy.

John M. Gottman, Ph.D., is the cofounder and co-director of the Gottman Institute, along with his wife, Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman. He is also the James W. Mifflin Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle and the recipient of numerous national and international awards for his groundbreaking relationship research. His work has been featured on many national television shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, 20/20, Dateline, and Good Morning America. His previous publications include the national bestseller The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, and The Heart of Parenting, as well as numerous scientific papers.

Recommended For:

This course is recommended for health care professionals, especially psychologists, counselors, social workers, and nurses who seek knowledge about domestic violence. It is appropriate for all levels of participants’ knowledge.

Course Objectives:

  1. Explain the differences between the Jacobson/Gottman research and other domestic violence research.

  2. Separate fact from fiction with regard to domestic battering.

  3. Distinguish between “Pit Bulls,” “Cobras,” and nonviolent couples, in terms of basic characteristics and behavior during nonviolent arguments.

  4. Describe the characteristics of “Cobras” and their relationships with their partners.

  5. Describe the characteristics of “Pit Bulls” and their relationships with the partners.

  6. Describe the characteristics of women who leave abusive relationships, and the factors that encourage or discourage leaving.

  7. Describe the circumstances under which domestic violence stops.

  8. Describe the available options for rehabilitating batterers, including sanctions within the criminal justice system.

  9. List and explain the factors women must consider to increase safety and security when leaving an abusive relationship.

  10. Expain the legal and social structures maintaining domestic violence in our society, and the steps that have been taken to reduce such violence.

Exam Questions

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